Will the No. 1 team in college football please stand up?
There's room for some confusion about its identity. There's also a way to end the habitual confusion. But don't hold your breath waiting for it to be applied.Meanwhile, the name of the top team depends on whom you ask.
According to the Associated Press' panel of reporters and broadcasters, the No. 1 college team is Colorado, which compiled an 11-1-1 record with the help of an illegal but unnoticed fifth down during one of its early games and with the aid of a controversial clipping penalty that nullified a Notre Dame touchdown in the final minute of the Orange Bowl.
But just try telling that to coaches voting in the United Press International poll. They gave top honors to Georgia Tech, which ground up the Nebraska cornhuskers in the Citrus Bowl and wound up with a 11-0-1 rec-ord. Scripps Howard News Service also picked Georgia Tech.
Still another answer comes from The New York Times. It awarded first place in the nation to Miami (10-2), which crushed Texas in the Cotton Bowl and was referred to by a Times sports columnist as "the meanest dudes in the land."
Not every season winds up so muddled. Sometimes one team is so outstanding that nearly everyone agrees it's No. 1. But most years produce an argument.
Which brings up and old but persistent suggestion: Why not have a tournament to produce a national champion?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association instituted one for basketball years ago and it has proved to be a tremendous hit, not only with the colleges but with the fans.
There would be major opposition from sponsors of the post-season bowl games because these extravaganzas provide large financial returns as well as invaluable promotion for tourism. But bowl games are no way to determine a national champion. Participants often are selected so early that they produce gross mismatches that shed little light on the question of which college team is the best in the land.
The only fair way to select a national champ is to have teams battle it out on the gridiron in a post-season tournament.